I have discussed many activities and processes that will either benefit your collaborative network and partners, or will help you to derive value from, and for, your collaborative network.  I have also continuously referred to the collaborative network as a professional network that provides the same types of opportunities for growth and sharing as one of the social networks such as Facebook.  In fact, the social networks such as Facebook have been blurring the lines between social and professional networks for quite some time.  One aspect that deserves attention is management of your collaborative network relationships.  You must focus more attention and time on managing the collaborative partnership relationships and this amount of time spent on managing the relationship increases as the number of partners increases. 

This is just a natural resulting requirement of the development of the collaborative network and this requirement naturally increases as the number of partners increases.  Think about this for a moment, compare this to a person and their social network of friends, as the network of friends increases and especially close friends, you will spend more time in contact and interacting with these friends.  This is an understood and unspoken requirement to maintaining the relationships.  This requirement is like gravity, you don’t think about gravity all the time but you know its there.  The collaborative network requires the same type of nurturing and regular maintenance in order to sustain and grow the network.  As with your personal relationships and network, the contact does not require face time but it does require time.  This time requirement will also fluctuate with the participation and activities involving the network. 

There are types and levels of contact and maintenance of relationships, again the professional collaborative network in this case closely mimics the personal social network.  You will identify collaborative partners into levels of relationships - you will have close partners that you interact with frequently in the course of your day to day activities and then the partner interaction decreases as the partners extend out through the collaborative network until you reach the level of partner and participate that is an infrequent level.  One additional difference between the professional collaborative network and the personal social network is the interaction and participation that is generated by projects within the professional collaborative network.  Projects and business, or network, driven initiatives will cause interaction to increase and decrease based on the initiative and the activities occurring as a result of the initiative.  This is a natural occurrence you must anticipate and recognize as it occurs.

It is important that you take this into account in your collaborative partnerships and relationship development.  Without spending the additional time and energy on maintaining the relationships your network will surely disintegrate.  The network must be nurtured and encouraged in order to maintain and the level of effort to nurture will increase as the span of your network increases.

And now for the audience participation portion of the show…

How do you identify and address new opportunities in your current business market?  Have you ever tried to develop a SWOT focused on new business opportunities or new markets  to evaluate the fit for partnership and as a means to address and meet new opportunities?  Do you regularly develop a SWOT analysis to evaluate your internal capabilities and needs to support new business and market opportunities?